Sedan used as location for new Les Misérables adaptation

Sedan – a small but historic town in The French Ardennes – is one of several locations in Belgium and Northern France used in the filming of new TV mini-series adaptation of Les Misérables.

 

The series reunites screenwriter Andrew Davies with the two co-production companies, BBC and Lookout Point, that made War & Peace in 2015.

 

Victor Hugo’s novel Les Misérables is already well-known to modern day audiences thanks to the record-breaking musical, which has been on stage in the West End for more than 30 years and was adapted into an Oscar winning film in 2012 starring Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe.

 

Davies’s BBC version, however, will be dialogue only, and will delve back through the original novel focusing on Valjean and Javert’s cat-and-mouse chase against the epic backdrop of 19th century France at a time of civil unrest.  It is set to air across six one-hour-long episodes.

 

The latest adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic novel will feature British actors Dominic West, David Oyelowo and Lily Collins in the lead roles – alongside an all-star cast.  It is being directed by Tom Shankland.

 

Filming began in February in Belgium, and moved to Sedan in Northern France in April.

 

Brussels, Enghien, Namur and Ecaussines are amongst the towns and cities used as locations in Belgium, along with Limburg in The Netherlands, and Sedan in The French Ardennes.

 

Like the book itself, the television adaptation is set against a backdrop of post-Napoleonic France as unrest beings to grip the city of Paris once more; and it will vividly and faithfully bring to life the vibrant and engaging characters, the spectacular and authentic imagery and, above all, the incredible yet accessible story that was Hugo’s lifework.

 

Sedan has been selected as one of the key locations for filming because its historic centre looks like 19thcentury Paris.

 

Founded in 1424, the town is situated around 125 miles from Paris, 50 miles north-east of Reims, and a little over 5 miles south of the border with Belgium. The historic centre occupies a peninsula formed by a bend in the River Meuse.

 

Today, Sedan is best-known for possessing the largest fortress in Northern Europe.

 

During the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 the French Emperor Napoleon III was taken prisoner at the first Battle of Sedan along with 100,000 of his soldiers, which also resulted in the unification of Germany.

 

Sedan was occupied by the Germans throughout World War One; and at the outbreak of the Second World War, German troops invaded neutral Belgium before crossing the Meuse and winning the Second Battle of Sedan, which lasted from May 12-15 in 1940.

 

This battle was key in Germany’s invasion of France, as they not only bypassed the French fortification system, The Maginot Line, but also enabled them to trap the Allied Forces that were advancing east into Belgium.

 

One of the major tourist attractions of The French Ardennes, Sedan Fort is open to the public, and contains the entire history of the fortress and town within a museum that is especially dedicated to the war of 1870, filled with a rich collection of Prussian helmets and the panoramic study of the Sedan battle by the Bavarian painter Ludwig Braun.

 

The inner circle of the castle has been converted to a luxury four-star hotel, the Hôtel Le Château Fort de Sedan (https://hotel-lechateaufort.fr/en/), where rooms are available from around £95 per night.

 

A new magazine-style brochure, entitled French Ardennes Inspirations, can be downloaded online http://gb.ardennes.com.

IMAGE CREDIT  © Jean-Marie Charlot